Golden State Warriors Celebrate Best Season In NBA History
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
All this season, NBA fans have heard plenty of calls like this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Green, back to Curry - bang (ph).
INSKEEP: Another basket for Steph Curry. So many, in fact, that his Golden State Warriors last night set the record for the most wins in a single season - regular season, that is - in pro basketball history. Their 73 wins broke the mark set by Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in 1996.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
That wasn't the only big event on the last day of the NBA regular season. Here in Los Angeles, an era ended also with a bang.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Bryant on the move with the jumper...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: ...He got it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Oh, my, 58 points.
MONTAGNE: Kobe Bryant ended his storied career with 60 points, and he set a personal record for the most shots he's ever taken in a game.
INSKEEP: Let's talk about all this with Diamond Leung. He covers the Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. Good morning.
DIAMOND LEUNG: Good morning. How are you doing today?
INSKEEP: OK. And I know that you've come practically from the arena to talk with us after a long night working there. What was it like to be in the arena for that Warriors win?
LEUNG: Well, you could feel that it was a historic night. I think the fans were beside themselves. They went home with the memory of Steph Curry just having one of his best games. Steph Curry scored 46 points, made 10 three-point shots and did something that no one else has done. He's surpassed the 400 mark for three-pointers this season.
INSKEEP: OK, so I want to stop you there because this is amazing. I didn't even realize, but a few years ago this guy set the record for the most three-point shots, 272. And then he set another record for the most three-point shots, 286. And how he goes all the way to 400 - what is he doing?
LEUNG: Unbelievable. Just shattered his own record. You know, he's just gotten better and better and better. And coming off an MVP season, sometimes you think well, the guy's reached the mountaintop. There's not a whole lot to go. This guy works harder than anybody else, whether it's wearing impaired-vision goggles and taking all sorts of different shots. So he does so many different things that pushes his own limits. And now here we are with the 402 three-pointers.
INSKEEP: Four hundred-two - so he practices with goggles that are like a hand in his face, basically.
LEUNG: Yeah, they impair your vision. It's just one of the many things he does. And all he does is he wears - is wear those glasses and tosses a tennis ball to himself and sees if he can catch it while his vision's being blocked. Whatever he does, he's always looking for the next edge.
INSKEEP: Now we could go through several Warriors players, but I want to ask about Steve Kerr, the coach. We're at the end of his second season here. This team seems to have gone from pretty good to amazing instantly. What do you think this guy has?
LEUNG: You know, his leadership ability, the way communicates is really just off the charts. This is a very talented Warriors team that he inherited. He was able to take it to the next level just by putting in a new offensive system. And, you know, maybe lot of people saw hey, they won the championship. How much better can they get? Well, if you think about it, last year was Kerr's first season. And in that first season, you can only kind of learn so much. Well, this year they took it to the next step. The way he put in his offensive system, the way they got better playing with each other in that system, I think, is just a testament to the whole thing that he's set up.
INSKEEP: So one other thing. What's it like for you to be a sports reporter in this era when Kobe Bryant's career has come to a close as it did last night?
LEUNG: Yeah. You know, one thing I took from that was there was kind of a symmetry to that, where Steph Curry and the Warriors have this great night and they break the Bulls record. And on the other side, Kobe Bryant - the guy that used to just give the Warriors fits, dominated the West Coast, if not all of basketball - you know, he goes out in his last game, has a big night as well. And, you know, it's almost in some ways a passing of the torch, maybe.
INSKEEP: Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News, who joined us by Skype. Thanks very much.
LEUNG: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.